Change is coming to Hallandale Beach in the form of new lifeguards.
On Monday, the city tested candidates for the job, who will no longer be employed through Jeff Ellis Management.
The hiring comes after lifeguard Tomas Lopez was fired by the company in July for leaving his zone to help rescue a struggling swimmer. Several of his coworkers quit in protest and Lopez declined an offer to take his job back.
“In 2009, we had looked at bringing the contract back in house,” Mayor Joy Cooper said. “Certainly we didn’t have any incidences on our beach, but the event that took place with Ellis and the miscommunication they had with their staff and how they were handling their employees was certainly the catalyst to bring it back in house now.”
Lifeguard hopeful Brian Ritchie told NBC 6 South Florida that the testing Monday was very competitive.
“We’re doing a 500-meter swim, a rescue test and a CPR test to narrow down the candidates,” he said.
Hallandale Beach, which received 209 applications for the positions, will also place ocean rescue from city limit to city limit.
“We’ve got people here from New Jersey, from Chicago, from California, most of the applicants are from South Florida, but we also have a big contingent that’s come from north Florida as well,” said Jim McCrady of the United States Lifesaving Association.
The association tested the candidates Monday with timed trials and questions. Cooper, who was on the beach, said the change would bring positive results to the citizens.
“Excited about the whole concept of bringing it back in house, having an excellent caliber of lifeguards, having them certified and making sure that we’re providing the excellent service our citizens demand,” Cooper said.
Those hired are scheduled to begin working Oct. 1.